Making maths homework concrete makes a difference to the level of engagement with a child especially in Primary School
I have noticed over the years that the exact same maths questions (especially as homework) can be engaging or otherwise depending on the context of the questions.
Here are some homework sheets from our sister-site Ninja Maths which use minimal context of apples and oranges in Y4/5 homework such as “If an apple cost 14p, how much change will you get from the shopkeeper if you buy five apples with a £5 note?”
There are 630 long addition questions in this book which start easy and get progressively more difficult.
The workbook is A4, 56 pages containing questions and answers.
Research has shown that practice and repetition are key to securing numeracy (see website for details regarding repetition as a key step in learning and recall).
In this book the maths starts with two digit numbers and ends with numbers in the thousands. Suitable for ages 8 to 12 – from Primary School to the first year of Secondary School if further help is required with long addition:
Page 1 Example: 65 + 7
Page 15 Example: 164 + 187
Page 27 Example: 942 + 726
Page 42 Example: 8,916 + 6,945
I highly recommend a child doing two pages of this book every day especially during Easter, Summer and Christmas breaks to help secure numeracy while on long breaks from school.
Don’t Panic! Here are three simple sentences which I have found to have positive impact on a child’s mind-set
Sometimes when a child reads a question in a SAT test or 11+ entrance exam, they panic. Then their brain starts to close down. Then they start to guess, which is just about the worst possible thing to do.
It is hugely important to not panic and the first thing to remember to help stay cool in an exam is to not guess.
Break it Down
Often on first reading, a question is difficult to understand. That’s why it is very important to break it down. That’s exactly what the examiners want the child to do – to extract the numbers and relationships from the text of the question. If there are ten red apples and fifteen green, the child should write down 10R and 15G – in part to engage their brains in breaking down the question.
Often there’s an “Ah-ha!” moment, when after breaking the question down, a child suddenly realises what the question is asking. By the “Ah-ha!” often doesn’t happen unless the break-down comes first.
Work it Out
Once a child has all the required information they can begin to work out the answer. But this short sentence isn’t just about working it out, it’s about SHOWING that you’re working it out.
Remember that if a question in a paper is worth 3 marks, you can bet that at least one of those and possibly two is for showing your working out.
It is important for a child to continue maths work throughout long holidays with a combination of workbooks and tutorials
During the long summer holidays (and other such as Easter and Christmas) it is very important for a child to;
A) Work their way through workbooks, and;
B) Have regular tutorials to tackle any questions which could not be solved
The advantage of online tutoring is that a child can have a tutorial no matter where in the world they are, including on holiday. One a week is typically fine, or twice a week for children in UK Year 5 who will return to school and start their 11+ exams in the first week or so of Y6 as they also ramp-up for the Independent School Entrance Exams.
Summer maths camps are of use, but are typically focused on getting as many children to attend as possible which diminishes the value delivered to each child. In addition the homework is generic, whereas the homework from a tutor is targeted.
Workbooks are also of importance, assuming the parents have time to mark all the work and can offer advice on how to solve questions which the child cannot. This becomes more difficult in the first year or so of Secondary School when teenagers are tackling algebra and more advanced trigonometry.
Keep up the workbooks while on holiday and if you are interested please contact me for a free no-commitment tutorial session anywhere in the world:
When possible, a child should practice their maths every day, feeding back to parents and the tutor any questions which they found difficult
Think of getting better at maths as getting better at playing an instrument.
If a child misses a day or so here and there it shouldn’t matter too much. But to not practice for a week (even through long holidays) is a mistake and will move a child’s abilities in the wrong direction.
Tutoring is a great way to target any questions which a child finds difficult – in a way that teachers simply can’t because they’re looking after so many children at school.
A child should try to practice maths every day, make a list of any questions they found difficult (e.g. from school homework or from home study workbooks). It is VITALLY IMPORTANT to let your tutor what your child found to be difficult so they can focus on that subject in a tutorial, practice more, understand it, and deliver results in the exams.
Please contact the Tutor Dragon if you need any help especially using homework to target weaknesses to fix:
A child can learn to tell the time on a clock fairly easily but mastering time calculations is a whole other ball game
It is very important to acknowledge that there is a HUGE difference between telling time, and working out what the time was 45 minutes ago.
Telling Time Ages 5 to 6
A child should be able to read the hour and half-hour marks on an analogue clock and be able to draw in the hands for example if you say “Draw three o’clock.”
Telling Time Ages 6 to 7
A child should know the number of seconds in a minute, minutes in an hour, hours in a day and days in a week. A child should also be able to understand quarter-to and quarter-past when read a clock or drawing the hands on a clock.
Telling Time Ages 7 to 8
A child should be able to also read digital clocks, understand AM and PM as well as the 24-hour clock (e.g. that 1PM = 13:00), and be able to use the associated vocabulary such as morning, afternoon, AM, PM, noon, midday and midnight etc.
Time Calculations for Ages 8+
Children age 8+ should be able to perform time calculations starting with simple sums such as “It is 8AM now, what will the time be one hour from now?” – continuing on to more complex questions for 9+ into years 5 and 6 using train timetables and working out how long it takes a train to go from one city to another.
AM / PM Time Calculations
More complex questions involve AM and PM – e.g. where the answer to a train timetable question overlaps from AM into PM and vice-versa.
24 Hour Calculations
This is the final level in KS2 which a lot of children struggle with, including into Secondary School (and including a lot of adults!).
Such questions involve adding and subtracting hours and minutes even across midnight into the next day, where answers must be expressed in 24hr clock notation.
For example a plane leaving London at 8:05PM which takes seven and a half hours to fly to New York. What time will it arrive in London time and New York time, expressing both answers in 24hr notation including the day.
This is not easy and requires a better method than just using clock faces.